But I've always thought the greatest invention was the lightbulb... and not only because it gave all subsequent inventors something to visualize at the "A-ha!" moment!
You didn't tell us how you would answer your own question, carverman. What do you think is the greatest invention in each of your categories?
Hmmm...I posted but did not show up...try, try again....
I think the media attempted this very thing a few years ago.
Their answer was the printing press.
Some people argue electricity.
We still wouldn't have electricity if all our knowledge had to be hand-scribed.
Currency has also been touted as a marvel of human invention (kind of ironic being on the same list as the printing press!).
My personal pick...perhaps a concept such as 'society'.
Closely alligned with electricity is the adoption of AC. Distributing electricity efficiently, AC made it feasible to bring it to the widest user base, enabling cheap continent-wide electrical power to everyone, both rural and city-based.
I'll say X-ray technology! However, these days, this much perfected scientific know-how [thanks to many previous inventions], applies to not only medicine & what may first come to mind, but also applies to industry, science, space, etc.
If you remember that the X-ray was first discovered & used in the late 1800's to examine the structure of a human hand, and the many uses of X-ray technology today, it is simply mind-boggling; more than the technology itself, is of course the human brain/intellect.
"In 2010, 5 billion medical imaging studies were done worldwide."
A CENTURY OF RADIOLOGY: 1895–1995
"But it was the skeletal hand that captured the imagination of the public and of physicians, who recognized instantly that this discovery could change medical practice forever.
A century later, the vastly more sophisticated arts of medical imaging are still based upon the recognition that body parts absorb a beam of X rays according to their density, producing an image which allows identiﬁcation of body structures as well as the recognition of abnormalities reﬂective of injury and disease conditions."
Other notable uses of X-rays include:
- X-ray crystallography in which the pattern produced by the diffraction of X-rays through the closely spaced lattice of atoms in a crystal is recorded and then analysed to reveal the nature of that lattice. A related technique, fiber diffraction, was used by Rosalind Franklin to discover the double helical structure of DNA.
- X-ray astronomy, which is an observational branch of astronomy, which deals with the study of X-ray emission from celestial objects.
- X-ray microscopic analysis, which uses electromagnetic radiation in the soft X-ray band to produce images of very small objects.
- X-ray fluorescence, a technique in which X-rays are generated within a specimen and detected. The outgoing energy of the X-ray can be used to identify the composition of the sample.
- Industrial radiography uses X-rays for inspection of industrial parts, particularly welds.
Paintings are often X-rayed to reveal the underdrawing and pentimenti or alterations in the course of painting, or by later restorers. Many pigments such as lead white show well in X-ray photographs.
X-ray spectromicroscopy has been used to analyse the reactions of pigments in paintings. For example, in analysing colour degradation in the paintings of van Gogh.
- Airport security luggage scanners use X-rays for inspecting the interior of luggage for security threats before loading on aircraft.
- Border control truck scanners use X-rays for inspecting the interior of trucks.
- X-ray fine art photography
- Roentgen Stereophotogrammetry is used to track movement of bones based on the implantation of markers.
- X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy is a chemical analysis technique relying on the photoelectric effect, usually employed in surface science.
The above list is still growing.
Last edited by Toronto.gal; 2012-04-22 at 01:15 PM.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
I bet that the simple act of hand washing saved more lives than X-rays and all other imaging technologies combined. As recently as mid-19th century, medical professionals didn't wash hands between patient exams. In fact, it was perfectly normal to perform an autopsy of a corpse and then proceed to examine a live patient, without washing hands in between! The practice of hand washing became common after Louis Pasteur confirmed the germ theory of disease in the 1860-ties.
My pick for the greatest medical invention: vaccines
Language is a pretty decent invention.
Not sure how far we would have gotten without it.